We're always a little wary when we come across ordinary storage media that's been branded for a specific use. Aside from specific situations where only a terribly specific drive type will in fact work — we're casting a nasty glance in your direction,— for most cases a decent drive of any type will work. Most systems won't have specific hardware in place to take advantage of other "specialised" features…if they exist at all!
It was thus with some trepidation that we unpacked Western Digital's MyPassport AV 320GB drive. It's ostensibly an external USB 2.0 drive that's apparently "optimised" for video storage and playback. Quite how it's optimised isn't made entirely clear, and our alarm bells were ringing when we pulled it out of the box and realised that, aside from a vertical stand, it would be tough to differentiate this drive from any other Western Digital MyPassport Essential drive.
The MyPassport AV 320GB drive comes with…wait for it…320GB of storage. Are you excited yet? You're going to need to be, because from a software point of view, that's it. Unlike just about every other external hard drive on the market, including most of Western Digital's range, there's no other bundled software at all. That does free up some space on the drive, but if you were after a backup solution, you'll have to purchase that separately.
Western Digital's claim for the MyPassport AV is that it runs cooler and uses up less power than comparable USB 2.0 external hard drives. We can see the general utility in that, especially if you were pairing it up with a USB compatible AV product such as a PS3 or Xbox 360, both of which can run quite hot in a confined AV cabinet.